Tag Archives: Attitude

I learned something from art today

In the gym this morning, I watched Silvia Beck’s documentary “Michael Nyman – Composer in Progress“. This fascinating portrait not only distracted me from the fact that I was exhausting myself in monotonous exercise, but thrilled me so much that I jotted down some notes for this blog entry right after my workout. The documentary made me think about art and movies – and how they connect with the work and passion I put into Social Business (aka Enterprise 2.0).

Michal Nyman is a multifaceted artist: composer, conductor, pianist, author, music theorist, photographer and film maker. His name may not sound familiar, but probably some of his music does. He composed the compelling soundtrack for Oscar-winning masterpiece “The Piano” (the album became a bestseller in its own right) and for several films directed by Peter Greenaway (inlcuding Prospero’s Books which I like a lot).

I was very surprised to learn that Nyman wrote the music for “The Piano” without watching a single scene from the film. “I do not want to decorate a movie, but add something that could stand for its own”, says the composer . This view is supported by director Volker Schlöndorff who recounts that Nyman’s music for “The Ogre” makes some hidden aspects of the movie’s story perceivable (e. g. the main character’s hubris or the hidden dissent in the castle). Schlöndorff adds: “Michael Nyman is a great composer for a director, maybe not for the producer”.

So how does this connect to Social Business? In my job, I strive to conduct a mass movement, but I also need to cater for the director and the producer. A lot of blog posts and publications I recently saw on Social Business were geared towards the producers – the guys who provide the funding for our activities and want to see a solid return on investment. And don’t get me wrong: Social Business must deliver business value. However, as “raison d’être”, contributing to a company’s financial performance would not be enough.

Think of the movies: They are financed because the producers hope to make a profit. But they are made because the director, the screenwriter, the actors, the composer, etc. want to create something that is connected to an idea larger than itself and that touches people’s heart and soul. This may not be true for every movie you have ever watched, but certainly for those that you feel passionate about.

A few years ago, my husband and I met Glenn Cotter. He is a digital artist and has contributed visual effects to numerous movies – many of them blockbusters like “The last Samurai” or “The Avengers”. When we asked him about his work, he described how he made scenes shot in contemporary locations turn into something that looks like decades or centuries ago (at least that’s what he did in 2003). We could feel that this complex artwork is a labor of love, and that for him it’s not primarily about the economic performance of a movie, but more about the idea and the beauty of the piece of art he helps to create. His filmography shows that this approach does not keep the movies from becoming very successful.

When I think of the people I know who work as Social Business evangelists – we are all striving for creating business success, but what really drives us is the passion to create something. In our case, it’s not a movie, but a better way of communicating and collaborating. And those colleagues who become Social Business pioneers in our companies are usually not the number-crunchers, but the playful free spirits who understand the beauty of the concept.

How can we move Social Business to mainstream without catering to the producers only? I believe that a singular focus on value creation would result in a utilitarian approach that might convince people’s minds, but will not win their hearts and or touch their souls. And all three are necessary to make Social Business a sustainable success.

Therefore I think we need a balanced approach. We need to cater for the producers (who want to have an ROI, now), for the directors (who see the big picture of the company’s future), and for a broad and diverse audience.  The artists behind inspiring movies can show us  how to achieve this balance: We need to combine extraordinary skills, a sound understanding of value drivers, a passion for creating, an imagination that sees the future beauty in what’s just emerging, and the firm belief that we are doing the right thing at the right time.

It’s not about technology – it’s about doing it the Enterprise 2.0 way

Yesterday I followed the live stream of the Enterprise 2.0 Conference in Santa Clara. I could not help comparing the event with the recent Enterprise 2.0 Summit in Frankfurt. I realize why many people had raved about the Summit as “so different from the American conferences – more a management conference than a vendor event”.

In Santa Clara, I was surprised to see that Tony Zingale, CEO of Jive Software, started his key note with an advertising clip. Generally speaking, I was a bit disappointed by the key notes shown on the live stream. Most of them came from software vendors (I missed the first one from the U. S. State Department). IMHO, these talks were a bit like sales presentations – and focused too much on their respective platforms.

Yes, I admit it, one of my mantras is “It’s not about technology”. At the Summit, I learned that T-Systems’ Frank Schoenefeld considers this as one of the seven pitfalls of Enterprise 2.0. He advised us to carefully select the technology, integrate it into the existing software stack,  teach and educate employees how to use the social software stack.

I agree, this is important. Still, for me technology is a “conditio sine qua non” – indispensable, but not enough! Or – as Oscar Berg put it – technology is the obstacle between the user and his goals.

I am very happy that the Enterprise 2.0 Summit covered all those aspects that matter much more than technology. For instance, take the first day’s key notes  on “Manager 2.0 – Key Elements of Leadership Concepts in an Enterprise 2.0“. Richard Collin started his speech with a very powerful statement: Enterprise 2.0 is not about applying Social Software to the enterprise. It’s a new model of doing business and managing a company.

In Enterprise 2.0, technology is merely an enabler for a cultural evolution. It can change the way we connect with our colleagues, share information, collaborate, manage projects, innovate, lead, create value. Ah, here’s one thing I liked in yesterday’s Jive clip: It helps us move from “me” to “us”.

When introducing “2.0″ to the Enterprise, we should position it as “a better way we work”. Better for the company, because it’s more efficient, opens new business opportunities and creates more value. And – even more attractive to our audience – better for YOU because it will make your tasks easier, help you feel appreciated and connected to your colleagues.

When planning communication for Enterprise 2.0, try to work out why your colleagues will FEEL GOOD when working in this new way. And don’t listen to anyone saying “they would feel good if they didn’t have to work”. You only need to know an unemployed person to understand that’s not true. We are social beings, and we want that the things we do make sense. That’s why “working the enterprise 2.0 way” appeals to us.

Last week, I learned that this can happen without any technology. I was invited to a workshop, together with 11 colleagues from very different units. Although most of us had no direct stakes in the workshop topic (“not in my target agreement”), and many of us had not met before, we managed to work out a great result and even committed to doing a follow-up. The success factors may sound familiar to you:

  • At the beginning, we worked out why the topic is vital for our company – and why we personally feel passionate about it
  • The organizers made it clear that we were picked not because of our job description, but because of our experiences and diverse approaches to the topic
  • The moderator created a collaborative spirit

At the end, we realized that we had worked “the Enterprise 2.0 way” – without ever logging into our platform.